Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Episode 34

I am of manufactured birth. Oh yes indeed. My name back then was H24 - whether i was created in vitro or from a human mother i cannot say. At any rate, my cellmates called me H.

The cell group i grew up in consisted of four people F46, A09 and P57. We called each other by the first letter, and as you can imagine pretty ridiculous situations followed. When Malachi (and we were perplexed why he was not called M) taught us Language he made sure all of us got proper names, but since Malachi was a vicious young man the names we had were very unusual, if you take what i mean.

A proper conversation:
Malachi: "Pass the salt please, Asshole."

A09: "The name's A."

Malachi: "It's Asshole til i say it isn't. Right, Horny?"

Me: "I do not get what you mean by that."

Malachi: "Answer the damn question. It's Asshole, isn't it?"

Well you get the idea. P was named after some manner of cat, and F after a very bad verb. i did not find out until much later that Malachi was a pervert, and was teaching future Oragi because he was on trial for rape. In Black Moon, teaching Oragi was a very dangerous job. But more on that later.

My cellmates were my first close friends. A was a bubbly, happy girl one year my junior. P was the more withdrawn one - but he was nice to be around with, too. F, however, was a completely different case.

He was nothing to look at - ghastly pale with charcoal black eyes. But there was no sense of human around him. He always seemed aloof, at ease with himself - never happy nor sad. The closest thing i have seen to emotion in him is hunger. Is hunger an emotion? I once watched him in his bunk killing ants on the wall, a hungry look in his eyes. I almost thought he would eat them, but F just curled and went back to sleep, as if killing ants were ingrained human behaviour.

He was also the quickest to learn amonst the four of us. In martial arts and analytical subjects, i mean. When it came to social interaction - the art of negotiation and discussive cunning, he clammed up. Social Interaction was the only time we got to mingle with other cell groups, and i enjoyed it immensely. He, on the other hand, left for Hapkido or shooting or something else.

At any rate, the most intruiging thing about F was the interest taken in him. Important looking men came to check on our cell every once in awhile, even back when we were still kids. I couldn't fathom why. F looked normal and average - although smart and emotionally empty. I did not realize then he had been genetically tempered.


At the age of nine onwards we were put though the process of 'egging'. They called it such because we were placed in weird, oval contraptions for three hours everyday, in the throes of a powerful magic.

I did not like those sessions. Everytime the helmets were on, voices spoke. These voices were accompanied by the occasional picture and a strange, heavy feeling of knowledge. We learnt - in great detail - how the war started and what part we were to play in it. It also taught us the basics of outside life, the way normal people behaved and how to fit in any society. Sometimes the voices just lectured - telling us to be loyal to our country, to be proud of giving our whole lives to Black Moon service. The eggs were good teachers. We never forgot, and even today i can repeat word for word and visualize everything they said on first aid, herbs and human anatomy.

Then, one day, the voices told us to kill Malachi.

There were no proper values taught to us - other than loyalty to the country and obedience to to superiors. However, strategy lesons once spoke of the value of a comrade's life. As i tried to reason with the voices, they silenced me with magical pain.

"Listen. Malachi is a bad man." they said. If you do not kill him, he will kill you."

I did not believe that. I was filled with hate for the White Sun, but there were no instilled feelings against Malachi. The voices had not mentioned him before.

When he came the following Monday, me, P, and A did nothing. We were scared. F, however, grabbed a pen and drove it through Malachi's heart. We said nothing as Malachi crashed to the floor, convulsing. F returned to his sear and continued with his work, unperturbed with the crimson marks on his shirt and hands. Slightly shaking, we followed suit.

The next egging session was terribly painful. "You did not kill!" The voices screamed, "How are you to fulfill your role to the country?! You useless swine!"

Magical pain is excrusciating. When the time came for the next tutor to go (a traitor named Barrac) I helped send him along to the afterlife. I did not lie it. Neither did A or P. F did not say anything on the subject.


When we reached the age of 13 it came time for us to become Oragi. I still remember the chamber - a world apart form the cool, antiseptic cell walls. It was dark and gloomy and overly theatrical.

We touched the Somnus one by one. It felt more like rock the the metal box it seemed. Then we were deposited in a room.

The voices bore down on us.

"You are all cursed to die." They boomed. "The Somnus requires a sacrifice of blood to be made before you are granted use of your abilities."

It might have been funny in an alternate universe. But it was theatrical, and it worked. We looked at each other, wide-eyed; F looked at the ground, tapping his foot on the lino.

"I give you two choices." The voices spat. "One, you take a syringe from the box in the corner and inject yourself for an agonizing death."

A walked over to the box and took out a syringe, fearful. The liquid contained inside was a distinctive yellow.

"Or, two: you kill one of your friends. It pays your debt."

The voices vanished, leaving us in stunned silence. I, for one, couldn't think. What A did next was noble but ultimately useless. She was a gentle soul - as i said, a bubbly girl. I believe she did not want to hurt anyone. She injected herself.

It is a scary thing to see a friend turn into a monster. A09 screamed and fangs grew in her mouth. Fur sprouted over her hands and legs, and her eyes grew steadily yellow. I drew back in shock.

There was a loud crack as F swung, kicked, and broke her neck. P ran for the door. Without blinking, F grabbed P and got rid of him. I drew back, hands coming up in a karate stance.

F looked at me, his charcoal black eyes burning into mine. It was a look of hunger.

"The sacrifice of blood has been paid." he said, quietly. I noticed his hands were smeared crimson. F placed it on the door, and the door crashed outward. Alarms rang overhead. And without a further look at me, F leapt out of the room and was gone.

I'm Back

Terribly sorry for the delay (public examinations, so), but i've completed Janus offline, and am finally posting the rest of the first season. I'm fairly certain i've lost almost all my readers - and i guess i'll just have to complete this, my final obligation. It's sad, really, the way real life intrudes. So, very sorry.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Episode 33

There was a crackle of leaves and colour, and Jason broke out from the undergrowth, hit the ground and ran.

They were after him. Roots curled up on the ground, impending his progress; Jason had to dodge and jump and twist to avoid the growing wood. Darkness was absolute, moonlight streaming through holes overhead.

And then swift movement. a crack.

Jason fell dead to the ground, melting into gold dust as he did so.

A few hundred metres away, the real Jason woke up in a cold sweat. He briefly went over the dream. One of his Images was dead - he was sure of it, and it happened nearby. He snapped his fingers, conjuring up a few more.

"Scout it out." he said.

As they ran towards the forest, Jason turned back to the sleeping team. His mind was churning furiously - they had quite a low chance of escaping, and he had no idea how many Oragi he was up against.

Possibly standard Nobu team. Five.

Jason made up his mind. He walked over to Kyioshi and kicked him.

"Wake up."


The boy who killed the image was indeed part of a team of five. He inhaled the sweet night air quietly as they contemplated this new revelation: an Oragi who created believable Images.

"We're being watched." Evan said. He was a hulking beast of a man, all muscle and teeth.

The boy nodded. "Another image."

"Five." Qari corrected. "One in the undergrowth, four in the trees."

The team reacted quickly. Soon four of the five were burning to death, the other melting away with a bloodied palm-mark on his chest.

The boy's name was Bishop. His name was, of course, irrelevant - if a magister cursed it the spell would have had no effect on him. Physically Bishop was tall and thin and sinewy - his fingers roughened by training but originally like a piano player's. They were his killing tools - and he was proud of them.

There were four others in the Nobu unit - Evans, watchful Qari, Luke and Baldur. Baldur blew at his brown hands, and then wistfully at the trees.

"Which way, Q?"

"Northwest. They're moving towards the city. Escaping."

The team got to their feet as one and ran; Bishop leading the way. He paced himself, knowing fully well Luke should be in the front as unit leader. But every cell in his body screamed for revenge - he had a personal score to settle with one of the hunted Oragi; payment for an unforgiveable act back in their youth.

Hate thrummed in his veins. They sped past what appeared to be an occupied clearing but didn't stop - Luke and Qari not making any signs to scout.

"Hot on their trail." Evan said, not out-of-breath at all. "They can't be that far ahead -"

The trees over and around them burst into activity - Images leapt down from branches and started kicking and punching. Bishop blasted a few to death; Baldur burned anyone that got too near and they were off again.

"They want to study us before we fight." Qari said, panting slightly.

Nobody answered as they broke out of the undergrowth.

There he is! Bishop's mind screamed - he lifted up his hands as faces long forgotten flashed before his eyes ...

Luke pulled his hands down.

"Another time. You'll never hit them at this range."

They stared as the specks vanished behind a slight slope. Ahead was Freeport, collumns of smoke visible in the faint glow of dawn. Booms still echoed, and the trees around them rattled at the force. The Black Moon war machine was busy at the other end of the city.

Luke put his arm comfortingly around Bishop's shoulders. "I don't see why you're taking this so seriously." he said, rumpling Bishop's hair. "They can't escape. We'll get them soon."

Bishop shrugged his way out from Luke's grasp and gritted his teeth. So near to death. He doesn't know it, does he?

Luke's diary extract
I called the planes down. Their academy isn't going to last very long. And Bishop? That boy is acting too personal for my liking. Something's up.

Jason's blog extract

They have a firestarter. But how does the other one kill?